Wire are a British rock band who have been linked to the punk scene since they formed in the 1970s with their debut release Pink Flag. Fourteen albums later, Wire, accompanied by their latest self-titled LP set up their equipment on the Brudenell stage. Slightly in front, a curly haired couple share a delicate moment, hopefully in reminiscence of that sweaty night they met; probably throwing punches and wearing ripped denim in the '70s.
A shiny, silver Ipad is placed centre stage just left of Colin Newman’s microphone. Visions of synthesis and guitar pairings come to mind, or Newman impressively programming his own light show right from the stage. Its purpose is still undecided as it seemed to be only used to check lyrics, as Newman glances over to the white illuminated screen and clicks to what can only be a shortcut to Lyrics Mania.
For some reason Wire’s transition from track to track does not feel that fluid or consistent. This could be down to the Robert Gotobed on drums counting in with a traditional click from the sticks with every other song. Or it could be down to the contrast in sound from the Pink Flag tracks, to sounds from their latest release, Wire. This is not necessary a bad thing, but at times certain tracks did drag on with no reason or intention, which is surprising due to most being under three minutes.
The show is packed with newer tracks like 'In Manchester' and ‘Burning Bridges’, along with the more familiar songs like ‘Blessed State’ taken from their 1979 album 154. The aggression in the delivery has softened, yet still remains engaging and meticulous. What is left is a slightly downtrodden, deflated punk groan from Newman’s throat, which makes each track darker and more looming. The show peaks at a high frequency, pounding through the chest of Wire’s followers. Even plugging the ears of some with yellow foam, the pure rattle that squeals out of Matthew Simms’ guitar leaves the unplugged ears ringing afterwards.
The crowd that stands looking up at the quartet are not surprisingly mature. Unconventionally, a young-ish looking guy walks through the crowd with a full 12 inch box of pizza and begins to munch on it as the performance continues. Slightly strange, but it does sum up the lack of raw enthusiasm that seems to correlate between the less aggressive performance and the audience.
Tracks from their latest album sound almost dystopian, running guitar riffs and the repetitive hi-hat climbs without reaching a crescendo. This abrupt end urges the sweaty necks of the people standing side by side to yell things like “We are not worthy”. That alone shows the cult influence that perpetuates out of Wire's every move and every note. Sturdy baselines and wondering guitar licks add to the atmospheric satisfaction in tracks like ‘Harpooned’ wire intended for the evening.
The show tonight seems to be more about a bands exploration as Wire's music takes a slightly different direction into a distance dystopia fuelled by atmospheric melodies. This is something they do exceedingly well and the audience do look on idle yet content with Wires’ new direction. For me the show is too self-seeking, as I would rather punk punched me in the face than wonder by aimlessly.